Influenza can have serious impacts on your patients' health. Remind them that they can protect themselves by getting vaccinated.
Even though the influenza vaccine isn't perfect, a flu shot is very effective against severe outcomes. Read the Pocket Guide for Immunizers from Immunize Canada to learn more. Not all vaccines listed are offered in Ontario, and Ministry of Health guidance may vary.
Why it's important for patients to get the influenza vaccine during the respiratory illness season
On Sept. 14, 2023, the Ministry of Health issued a news release stating that COVID-19 activity is rising with new variants circulating and other seasonal respiratory illness are expected early this year.
The number of laboratory confirmed infections during 2022 - 2023 influenza season was higher than both the 2017 - 2018 and 2018 - 2019 infuenza seasons.
Universal Influenza Immunization Program
Each year, the Ministry of Health provides publicly funded influenza vaccine through the Universal Influenza Immunization Program.
Public Health supports Niagara's health care professionals in implementing this program by providing:
- A pre-determined, equitable, one time allotment of influenza vaccine for vulnerable and high-risk groups. The exception is agencies and workplaces who receive influenza vaccine based on ordering.
- The seasonal influenza vaccine order form for health care professionals to order additional vaccine for subsequent orders based on availability
- Information about influenza vaccine products, supply and distribution
- Details on local flu activity and surveillance
Call the Vaccine Preventable Disease program Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at 905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074 ext. 7396.
Concurrent vaccination of influenza and COVID-19 vaccine
A National Institute on Ageing survey found that most Canadians are comfortable with vaccine co-administration and would get a flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time if it was offered.
Take the time to reassure your patients about the safety of co-administration of influenza and COVID-19 vaccine.
Additional benefits of influenza vaccination
Protection against infection and illness from the influenza virus through influenza vaccination may provide added benefit in protecting against other serious diseases, such as invasive Group A Streptococcal Disease (iGAS) or worsening of existing chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease.
The Universal Influenza Immunization Program offers influenza vaccine free of charge to all individuals six months of age and older who live, work or go to school in Ontario.
Learn how pharmacists can administer influenza vaccine to eligible Ontarians (with or without a OHIP card) who are two years of age and older.
Who should be prioritized
The Ministry of Health has identified high priority groups to receive the influenza vaccine.
- When to immunize
High priority groups can be immunized as soon influenza vaccine is available.
Immunization of the general public can start Oct. 30. The influenza vaccine is recommended for all people six months of age and older. However, the following groups are particularly recommended to receive the influenza vaccine:
- Individuals capable of transmitting influenza to those listed in the high priority groups and / or to infants under six months of age
- People who provide essential community services
- Poultry industry workers
For more information about these groups, please consult the Universal Influenza Immunization Program.
Large-scale influenza community vaccination clinics for the general population should be scheduled in November to ensure an adequate supply of vaccine.
- Influenza vaccines for 2023-2024
- Standard-Dose Quadrivalent Inactivated Vaccine (QIV) for clients six months of age and older
- High-Dose Quadrivalent Inactivated Vaccine (QIV-HD) for 65 years of age and older
- Adjuvanted Trivalent Inactivated Vaccine (TIV-adj) for clients 65 years of age and older
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization indicates that egg allergy is not a contraindication for influenza vaccination and that egg-allergic individuals may be vaccinated against influenza using the full dose of any age-appropriate product.
Vaccine orders may include both multi-dose vials and pre-filled syringes. Make the necessary room in your vaccine fridge to accommodate the packaging. Pre-filled syringes will require the addition of a 1-inch to 1.5-inch safety-engineered needle tip.
The recommended needle gauge and lengths for intramuscular injections are:
Needle recommendation Infants, toddlers and children Adolescents and adults Gauge 22 - 25 22 - 25 Length
7/8ths of an inch - 1 inch
1 - 1.5 inch
Before receiving influenza vaccine, review how to monitor the vaccine fridge temperature and handle a cold chain excursion.
Ordering the influenza vaccine
As a primary care provider, your one time allotment of the publicly funded influenza vaccine is based on the products and quantities that Public Health receives. We aim for an equitable distribution to all health care providers interested in participating in the Universal Influenza Immunization Program.
After you receive your initial allotment in October, you will be able to order more flu vaccine from Public Health using the seasonal influenza vaccine order form.
Public Health is unable to take your unused influenza vaccine back to use or redistribute. To help ensure less waste, only order influenza vaccine in amounts that you're certain your office can use. You can order more vaccine as required and as available.
Public Health doesn't distribute influenza vaccine to pharmacies.
Pharmacies that have successfully completed the prequalification process need to refer to the Universal Influenza Immunization Program or contact the Ministry of Health for more information, including vaccine ordering, reporting and reimbursement. The Ministry of Health will email all approved pharmacies participating in the Universal Influenza Immunization Program in fall 2023.
The Ministry of Health will email all approved vaccine providers participating in the 2023-2024 Universal Influenza Immunization Program. Facilities, such as workplaces, nursing agencies and retirement homes that don't routinely store vaccine, and have successfully completed the pre-qualification process can order from Public Health using the seasonal influenza vaccine order form.
Recommended doses and products
Children six months to under nine years of age not previously immunized with any influenza vaccine in their lifetime are recommended to have two doses at least four weeks apart. It is not necessary to use the same vaccine product for both doses.
One dose of the influenza vaccine is needed each year to provide protection for all other individuals.
Don't delay vaccination to wait for a particular product. Seniors are only eligible for one publicly funded influenza vaccination per season.
Concomitant administration of influenza and COVID-19 vaccines
COVID-19 vaccine may be given at the same time as, or any time before or after, influenza vaccine. Learn more about administering COVID-19 vaccine in your practice, long-term care home or retirement home.
Refer to page 13 in Information for the 2023 / 2024 influenza season for intervals between influenza vaccine and Shingrix®.
Ministry of Health questions and answer for health care providers
- Information for the 2023 / 2024 influenza season
- Information for individuals six months to 64 years of age
- Information for individuals 65 years of age and older